Rules for Missouri Fourth-Class Cities - Page 16
Parenthetical numbers in the text refer to sections of the current Revised Statutes of Missouri, abbreviated as RSMo.
The constitutional provision
The Missouri Constitution, in Article VII, Section 6, is direct and to the point. An official or public employee who appoints a relative forfeits his or her office or job. This happens at the time the appointment is made. Appointment doesn't have to be to a paid position. "Any public officer or employee in this state who by virtue of his office or employment names or appoints to public office or employment any relative within the fourth degree, by consanguinity or affinity, shall thereby forfeit his office or employment."
Degrees of relationship
All relatives have a common ancestor. Degrees are calculated by counting from the one back to the common ancestor and then forward to the other. For example, first cousins (the children of siblings) are related in the fourth degree — from A to the parent to the grandparent to B's parent and then to B. Sisters are related in the second degree: from A to the parent and then to B.
Consanguinity and affinity
Consanguinity and affinity are fancy ways of saying by blood or by marriage. A daughter and daughter-in-law count exactly the same. Spouses count as a unit, so relatives of either are equivalent relatives of both. It's not clear whether or not ex-relatives remain related.
What is forbidden
The section forbids appointing. An official who abstains from voting when a relative is under consideration violates nothing. A person elected to the same appointment that was previously held by a relative violates nothing. Brothers can be on the board together because voters appoint them. Now, if the city clerk hires his or her son to make repairs to the streets, the clerk forfeits his or her job and the improperly appointed son keeps his job. Making the appointment is outlawed. If the board should hire the same son for the same job, no problem.